Shenzhen Sang Fei Consumer Communications Co., Ltd, which now owns Philips’ mobile phone business globally, recently announced the launch of Philips Xenium dual-SIM mobile phones in India. On the occasion, Dr Tan Jok Tin, CEO and managing director, spoke to Uma Gupta, an executive editor at EFY, about mobile phones today and tomorrow, Philips’ comeback and its intelligent power management technology. Excerpts:
NOVEMBER 2011: Q. With computing and TV too loaded on mobile phones, these seem to be enjoying a premium position vis a vis other devices…
A. It’s hard to comment on this. A mobile phone is a more personal device. TV is a home device. So maybe your home TV isn’t purchased by you, while the mobile phone is selected by you. PC users will like to use the PC for business, sometime for entertainment or for Web browsing, but not everyone will use it for voice communication. Similarly, most people will not run office or professional apps or watch movies on a mobile phone.
Actually, the perspective is we are moving to a three-screen (mobile, PC and TV) era. You need to have your own personal screen, you need to have a screen for your work and then a screen that you can share with your family. A lot of these functionalities can be performed by mobile phones. The only thing is whether you are comfortable with a small screen size.
Q. Touch has redefined user experience. Going forward, which emerging technologies will play the biggest role in mobile phones evolution in the next five years?
A. Open Source mobile technology is catching the attention of many in recent times. The base of Android phones is steadily on the rise. Some other technologies worth mentioning include Wi-Fi, mobile computing, business over mobiles, tablets, ultra-mobile PCs and mobile commerce. Mobile phones have transformed into fast processing machines which besides communications are being used for multiple other purposes like browsing the Internet, doing business, tracking locations with GPS, etc. The world seems to have shrunk with smart phones.
Q. Barring entertainment and office apps, what new applications on mobile phones are going to simplify our day-to-day life?
A. According to some of the surveys, mobile phone users are downloading various applications increasingly. The ones that are in demand, or shall be in demand in the days to come, include games, music, social networking, news updates, navigation, movies, entertainment, sports, communication, banking, shopping, productivity, and travel and lifestyle.
Q. So how does a future mobile phone look like, in terms of features and design?
A. Mobile phone is a device which will be an enabler. It will perform almost anything that a big-screen device does. If we increase the screen size to 13-15 cm (5-6 inches), that will suffice.
Q. Coming to Philips, the company had quit the mobile space some time ago. Was the decision right and at right time?
A. Five years ago, Philips made a strategic decision to exit the mobile phone business in India because it chose to focus on its core business and do some strategic review. In 2007 we acquired the global business of Philips and since then we have been working on markets that Philips has been in before. At that point of handing over, we continued to do business in all those countries where Philips was present as our decision then was to focus on the existing market, do the job well and then move to other markets. As a company, we want to make sure that we are ready for the market. So we did a number of studies and consumer research to understand the market better, and now we are ready for the products. The setup is also ready. So there has been a break of few years and now we are back.
Q. Why the decision to make a comeback now when the market is already very crowded?
A. Yes, we understand that the market is crowded. But we also understand that it’s growing at a very fast pace. Having learned through consumer research, we think we do have a unique proposition for consumers.
Q. Don’t you feel that with so many players in this field, the competition is really tough?
A. The market has space for serious manufacturers like us. Apple has just come and it has created a niche market. We too are coming with something like that—a new technology called Xenium. It’s the power management of the circuit whereby the battery consumption is so low that for as long as one week you don’t have to bother about charging. On holiday, Saturday or Sunday, you put the phone on charge. The phone is highly efficient and eco-friendly as you charge it only once a week, whereas for most phones you need to charge every day. Also, unlike most other players in India, we are an EMS as well as ODM provider.
Q. How different are the requirements of Indian users?
A. Indians like music and increasingly many of them want to stay connected. With Xenium technology, people don’t get disrupted from a call just because the battery of the cellphone goes out. This is especially useful for smartphones. On most smartphones, because of rich content and special operating system, one use (usually music) is disconnected.
Q. Tell us more about the Xenium technology for long battery life.
A. Xenium is managing the power using little power for transmission. In a layman’s language, when you are talking your phone is in use, and when you are not talking it’s in sleeping mode but still consuming the battery constantly. In our phone, when it’s in sleeping mode, the battery isn’t consumed at all and it’s being preserved.
There could be many steps for a given operation. By eliminating unnecessary steps, we can make the device use less power.
Normally, to deliver an output, we take two steps. Optimisation is second. So it’s a combination of system, hardware and software. Hardware is the chip. For example, if people take four steps to perform a task, we take three steps and in the process we save power.
In sleeping mode, leakage of the components contributes a lot to energy loss. So the selection of right components for the design of a phone is crucial.